25 July 2014 - 1:54pm | posted by | 1 comment

Society's going down 'dangerous path' with 'right to be forgotten', says Jimmy Wales

Wikipedia is a non-profit online encyclopediaWikipedia is a non-profit online encyclopedia

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales today said the EU's ‘right to be forgotten’ directive is too open and companies like Google could delete certain information from history.

Speaking to Radio 4, Wales commented that the laws are far too open and hard to interpret - which will be a problem for search engines Google, Yahoo and Bing, which are enforcing the decision.

This comes as Google, which has rejected a third of the 91,000 removal requests it has recieved, is being questioned by brands who are concerned ‘right to be forgotten’ has entrusted too much power to search engines.

Jimmy Wales said: “I would say the biggest problem we have is that the law seems to indicate Google needs to censor links to information that is clearly public - links to articles in legally published, truthful news stories.

"That is a very dangerous path to go down, and if we want to go down a path where we are going to be censoring history, there is no way we should leave a private company like Google in charge of making those decisions."

Wales commented that he will be advising Google when he later helps the UK parliament come up with search engine law recommendations.

The definition of personal data is far too broad and gives individuals too much power when it comes to removing data from European searches, Wales said: “Almost anything about a person is considered to be personal data - including that the Prime Minister is married; that is personal data about the Prime Minister.

"What we need to do when we talk about protection of consumers... we talk about companies having information and needing to handle it in an appropriate way - we are talking there about private information, your health records, your financial information. That's a completely different category."

Google has so far started enforcing 'right to be forgotten' laws following the European Court of Justice's ruling earlier this year.

 

Comments

28 Jul 2014 - 18:09
jimmywales

The headline of this story is wrong. I did not say that Google is going down a dangerous path. I think Google is only doing what they have no choice to do: obey the law. It's the law - and society - which are going down a dangerous path.

We have the absurd situation now where Google is required to judge whether newspaper articles should be effectively censored through removal from certain keyword searches in Google. That's a really bad idea no matter how good a job Google does of it.

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